Cocaine dealer with weapons stash is jailed

A COCAINE dealer hid a shocking array of firearms in secret locations at his luxury home and buried drugs in his neighbour's garden, a court heard.

Stephen Hawken, aged 48, was jailed for 11 years at Plymouth Crown Court yesterday after being described as "high up the tree" of dealing Class A drugs in the city.

Speaking after sentencing, detectives who uncovered Hawken's secret arsenal described him as "an extremely dangerous man" who was a key figure in supplying cocaine and amphetamine to Plymouth's streets.

His arrest came after a dramatic three-hour siege involving armed police at Hawken's exclusive Derriford property last November, ending only when he was shot with a baton round and Taser.

The court heard how shaven-headed Hawken had hidden parts of his guns everywhere from his coffee machine to behind the walls of his plush house in the private Delgany Drive.

Thousands of pounds worth of drugs were found buried in next door's garden and a shotgun was found in a container on land near the house, the court heard.

Prosecutor Jo Martin said Hawken's arrest was triggered by a separate drugs raid at a house in Warwick Avenue, Whitleigh.

Officers seized amphetamines – but cocaine belonging to Hawken was not found, prompting he and another man to go to the address and recover it.

Ms Martin told the court how they had gone back to Delgany Drive and buried the drugs, along with a cutting agent, in a garden belonging to Hawken's next door neighbour.

The plastic container – covered in Hawken's fingerprints – was eventually found by a sniffer dog after the siege, she said.

The court heard how, on November 12, police swooped on the property and found a Taurus 9mm handgun and a stun-gun inside, the handgun disassembled and stashed in parts all over the house.

Behind a double oven was the body, while the spring was found in the bottom of a gas fire and the 9mm barrel in Hawken's bar.

An empty pistol magazine was found behind plasterboard in his utility room, the court heard, and the top part – along with the stun-gun – were found in his wall-mounted coffee machine.

There was ammunition behind the kitchen sink and 113 bullets soaking in oil – a process that maximises their performance – in Hawken's garage.

He told police in interviews that he knew nothing about the weapons, Ms Martin said, claiming they belonged to the previous owner of the house.

But the court heard how police widened their search after realising the extent of the haul and found a container on nearby land belonging to Hawken.

Inside was a shotgun, complete with ammunition.

Hawken's weapons were so well hidden, the court heard, that as recently as May a plumber working on a toilet in the house – which has since been repossessed – discovered another pistol magazine, this time containing seven live bullets.

Ms Martin told Judge Francis Gilbert QC that the guns and drugs combined showed Hawken had "high involvement in the Plymouth drugs scene".

She said: "They were all part of Stephen Hawken's armoury, to keep him high up the tree in the drugs scene.

"He was some way up the chain of command."

Hawken, wearing a shirt, jacket and jeans, appeared nervous as he sat in the dock fidgeting and making eye contact with the dozen or so family and friends there to support him.

He had been due to face trial but entered last-minute guilty pleas to seven of the nine counts against him.

They included possessing a class B drug – 345g of one per cent amphetamine – with intent to supply and a class A drug – 1,011g of nine per cent cocaine – also with intent, as well as possession of a stun gun, a handgun, a double-barrelled over-and-under shotgun, and ammunition without certificates.

The court heard how he had collected a string of convictions for drugs and firearms offences over the last two decades, already serving prison sentences totalling nine and a half years.

They date back to 1986 when, aged just 23, Hawken was caught in possession of a shotgun and ammunition without a certificate.

Since 1995 he has been convicted of possessing more ammunition, cannabis, amphetamines, MDMA and £20,000 in counterfeit currency.

Llewellyn Sellick, for Hawken, said his client deserved credit for his guilty plea, albeit last-minute.

"It was somewhat courageous of him to face reality," he said.

Mr Sellick told the court how, since last being released from prison, Hawken had built up a "thriving" company – Ace Plant Hire – and employed between six and eight people, subcontracting many more.

He had purchased his luxury house and won a number of large contracts, including working on a city police station.

But a developer Hawken was working with in Mannamead went bust in October last year, the court heard, owing him £100,000.

Since his arrest, Mr Sellick told the court, Hawken had lost both his home and his company.

He said: "It was in the autumn of 2008 that things went terribly wrong.

"This is a man who had done considerably well – he's now gone right back to zero again."

He added that the stun-gun found by police was missing a prong and a battery, meaning it would not have worked.

Hawken was also charged with five fly-tipping offences between January 17 and February 23 last year.

The court heard how building materials from a site in Stonehouse his firm was working at had been dumped in Dartmoor beauty spots.

A wood in Bickleigh, a car park in Roborough Down and an area near Meavy were among those littered in rubble, which included large wooden doors.

The mess cost more than £1,600 to clear up.

Hawken told police he was "appalled" and claimed subcontractors had dumped it all.

Sentencing Hawken to 11 years behind bars, Judge Gilbert described his part in supplying drugs in the city as "significant", telling him dealers found with weapons could expect long prison terms.

"You were not some minor warehouseman put upon by others," he said. "Your part in the supply of Class A drugs was significant.

"Those involved in the supply of drugs who have handguns must expect long sentences."

He gave Hawken six years for each of the two drugs charges, to run consecutively with concurrent five year stretches for possessing the handgun, ammunition and stun-gun.

A further 12-month sentence for possession of the shotgun and eight months for each of the fly-tipping charges will run concurrently.

Hawken, who has already spent 276 days in custody, was told he would serve at least half of his 11 years inside.

Judge Gilbert also ordered the destruction of all drugs and drug paraphernalia, all ammunition and the handgun and stun gun.

The shotgun, which was stolen from a licensed keeper in 2005, will be passed back to its rightful owner.

Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Matt Lawrence said police were "tirelessly pursuing" dealers like Hawken.

He said: "The very nature of the fact he was capable of siting drugs and weapons in so many places shows how far up the supply chain Stephen Hawken was.

"But justice has been done.

"We have got a very dangerous criminal off the streets for a considerable length of time and we have removed a substantial quantity of drugs from the streets of Plymouth.

"We have also got firearms out of the hands of somebody who is clearly an extremely dangerous man.

"That is due to the bravery of a number of individuals and the hard work of an exceptional team of officers and the Crown Prosecution Service.

"Hopefully this will instil confidence in the public that the police are tirelessly pursuing people who are involved in the supply of drugs and firearms."

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